UB student awarded U.S. Department of State Critical Languages Scholarship

Rebecca Ward, a junior majoring in World Religions at the University of Bridgeport, has been awarded a U.S. Department of State Critical Languages Scholarship (CLS).

Ward, 21, will study Arabic in the Middle East in the summer of 2011.

“They’ll tell me the site in the next week. It will either be Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Oman or Jordan,” said Ward, who also speaks Korean and Chinese. “I’m really excited.”

Ward’s passion for languages began when she was 12 and her family moved to South Korea for two years. “I loved studying Korean and living in Seoul,” she recalls.

She decided to major in World Religions at the International College because “it’s a flexible major. It gave me opportunities to study Chinese and Arabic, in addition to taking core classes.”

The CLS Program is part of a U.S. government campaign to increase the number of Americans mastering so-called critical-need foreign languages, such as Persian, Azerbaijani, Russian, Turkish, and Urdu, among others.

CLS scholarships are highly competitive: just 10 percent of students who apply win one, but they provide full funding to learn languages in intensive group sessions for eight to 10 weeks at international research and academic institutions.

Ward is the second student from the University of Bridgeport to win a CLS in the last three years.

As a CSL scholarship winner, she will be sent to the Middle East with other American students who have similar skills in Arabic. After that: China, perhaps.

“UB has connections with schools in China, so next semester I hope to study abroad,” said Ward. “I’d love to work in the Foreign Service or as a translator or an interpreter–any of those kinds of things.”

For now, Ward says she’s savoring her scholarship victory. “You get an e-mail that says, ‘check your application status’ so I signed in and the first word was ‘Congratulations’. I flipped out and didn’t read the rest. I jumped all over my brother and my mother.”

Media contact: Leslie Geary, (203) 576-4625, lgeary@bridgeport.edu